AUBURN, Ala.- Auburn Mayor Ron Anders announced his ONE AUBURN initiative today, inviting the community to join him in a conversation on diversity and equality.

“I believe the Auburn family is defined by our hospitality and our willingness to go out of our way when a neighbor is in need,” Mayor Anders said. “I’m calling on all of us to take a look at current events and at ourselves and talk about how we can be the best community we can be. I personally am making an effort to stop and listen to each of you. Because we are all, together, one Auburn.”

ONE AUBURN aims to strengthen the community by encouraging discussion and exploring ways to further unite Auburn residents. Mayor Anders’ program will include five components over the next few months:

ONE AUBURN: One Recognition
On Friday, June 19, Mayor Anders signed a proclamation commemorating Juneteenth, the date on which in 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger announced in Texas the end of both the Civil War and slavery. This proclamation was a first step for the City of Auburn in acknowledging the importance of the date in history and represented a commitment to do more to celebrate the day in future years.

ONE AUBURN: One Read
ONE AUBURN: One Read is a core piece of the initiative. Community members are invited to participate in a citywide reading program that aims to foster small group discussions. Mayor Anders has selected the book “Under our Skin” by Ben Watson as the primary title for One Read and has also selected a shortlist of alternative books. The Mayor will appoint a number of group leaders to organize book groups to discuss the books. Community members are also invited to create additional discussion groups or to incorporate one of these books into their existing small groups or book clubs. ONE AUBURN: One Read will kick off in July, and more details are forthcoming.

ONE AUBURN: One Conversation
Starting in July, Mayor Anders will facilitate conversations with different community members in a video series that will provide a platform for sharing experiences and discussing topics related to diversity in the community. Some may include opportunities for community questions.

ONE AUBURN: One Meeting
Mayor Anders will host a town hall panel discussion this fall where community members will discuss all aspects of One Auburn and the conversations it has included.

ONE AUBURN: One Project
The City of Auburn has for several years had plans to build an African American heritage center dedicated to preserving the history and experiences of the black community in Auburn and Lee County. The heritage center will be located on an expansion of the Boykin Community Center property in Northwest Auburn using city property that currently houses the Public Works and Environmental Services departments. The project will begin after the relocation of the Environmental Services and Public Works facilities. The building will be a commemorative replica of the Rosenwald schoolhouses, which were built in the early 1900s for black children in the rural South. The heritage center will include an archive documenting prominent local families, pioneers, churches and social and political organizations. The entire site will aim to tell an important story about perseverance and the importance of education. Plans are in the works to involve community members in the process.

“In my experience, we are a community that loves and serves our neighbors in all of their diversity,” said Mayor Anders. “I know we’re not perfect, and I know we have not all shared the same experiences throughout our lives. My goal is for this community to continue the conversation we began when we started my Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. I look forward to us learning from each other, opening our minds and hearts and becoming stronger as one Auburn.”

More details will be announced at news.auburnalabama.org and on social media @CityofAuburnAL as each phase of ONE AUBURN progresses. Sign up for the City’s eNotifier at auburnalabama.org/eNotifier to be alerted via text or email as plans are announced.

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